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  • Chris McMillan

Supporting Educational and Employment Opportunities for Canadians with Print Disabilities

Market Watch, Canada

8th June 2015


Supporting Educational and Employment Opportunities for Canadians with Print Disabilities

Government introduces new legislation that will make more Braille and audiobooks available in Canada

Canada has one of the top literacy rates in the developed world, but for some Canadians, this privilege also comes with certain limitations. Today, nearly one million Canadians live with a print disability such as blindness or partial sight, and some Canadians have mobility issues that prevent them from turning a page or pointing a cursor. For these Canadians, it can be especially difficult to obtain material such as textbooks or online resources in a format that is both accessible and easy to use. Canadians should not be denied opportunities to read and educate themselves simply because they are print disabled.

Today, Industry Minister James Moore introduced new legislation in Parliament that will expand access to print materials in formats vital to those living with a print disability. The Support for Canadians with Print Disabilities Act will enable Canada to join the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled.

With this legislation, Canada will become one of the first G7 countries to be able to implement the Marrakesh Treaty. This important treaty will ensure greater access to accessible reading material from around the world in a variety of languages, while also helping schools, libraries and charitable organizations that work with the visually impaired to reduce their costs.

The Support for Canadians with Print Disabilities Act was first promised in Economic Action Plan 2015. It will make the necessary amendments to the Copyright Act to allow for the making and distribution of accessible-format copies of print materials. It will bring Canadian law in line with the Marrakesh Treaty, while also maintaining specific safeguards to protect the rights of copyright owners.

Quick facts

-- On April 27, 2015, Minister Moore, joined by representatives from the

CNIB and the World Blind Union, announced that the Government of Canada

would introduce new measures to expand access to materials in adapted

formats for those living with a print disability.

-- The Government tabled the Marrakesh Treaty in the House of Commons on

April 29, 2015.

-- When the Marrakesh Treaty comes into force, Canadians with print

disabilities will have access to 285,000 adapted works from 13 countries

in more than 55 languages.

-- Only 7 percent of published books are ever made available in an

accessible format such as an audiobook or a Braille conversion.

-- According to Statistics Canada, 35 percent of visually impaired students

discontinue their education because of their condition, and

approximately one third of Canadians who are visually impaired are not

in the labour force.

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